Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have shot down a Nigerien helicopter, killing at least five persons on-board in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state.
According to a report by Daily Trust, the helicopter was carrying unidentified passengers, came down near Banki town at about 10 am on Tuesday.
An emergency source in Banki who visited the scene along the military said that the insurgents were likely responsible for the crash adding that the helicopter belonged to the Nigerein government.
The military was yet to confirm the incident at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force has debunked claims that the helicopter had been shot in Banki.
While acknowledging that the helicopter had undertaken a mission to Banki, a statement on Tuesday by the force said the helicopter had since returned to Maiduguri.
The statement said: “No helicopter crashed today in Borno state. A UN helicopter indeed undertook a mission to Banki and has since returned to Maiduguri.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria, UNOCHA, also denied that its helicopter was shot down.
“Contrarily to ongoing rumours, no UN helicopter was hit nor crashed today in north-east Nigeria.
“Please refrain from sharing any unconfirmed information. Thank you,” UNOCHA Nigeria said in a post on Twitter.
Although none of the two public statements admitted that the helicopter in Banki had an incident, a WhatsApp message shared among UN staff in Nigeria confirmed that the helicopter had an ‘emergency landing’ in Banki.
“UN-HAS (humanitarian air service) helicopter had issues shortly after taking off from Banki to Maiduguri and had to make an emergency landing.
“Banki military arrived the scene to provide security coverage while the team conducted emergency repair and the helicopter eventually flew back to Maiduguri,” the internal statement shared among UN staff stated.
The statement did not disclose details of what led to the emergency landing.